Star Rating: 3 out of 5
Suicide Squad is DC’s latest entry in their ongoing cinematic universe, and boy was it something. Written and directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad tells the story of several super villains and criminals who are forced into doing some good things by a shady government agency lead by one terrifying woman.
The movie starts out by introducing each of the members of the squad (known as Task Force X). First is Deadshot, followed by Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg, and Enchantress. The team is later joined by Katana and Slipknot. Oh, and the Joker is there too, but he’s not a member of Task Force X (more on him in a minute). The movie does a good job of providing back story to most of the characters, especially Deadshot and Harley Quinn who get fully fleshed out back stories prior to any other plot development. They are the only two members of the team that feel like real characters. The back stories of the other characters end up being footnotes compared to the overall plot.
Once the characters are introduced, the plot is pushed forward when a massive terrorist attack hits Midway City. Task Force X is then called into action to make their way to the center of the city to pick up an asset to get air lifted out of the city. Of course, when villains are involved nothing can go 100% right.
The best part of this movie were the characters themselves. The casting might be the closest thing to perfect. Viola Davis was easily the most terrifying part of the movie, as her character Amanda Waller should be . Will Smith was great as Deadshot and Margot Robbie was perfect as Harley Quinn. Jai Courtney made a C-list comic book character actually pretty cool (and in some moments stole the show with his humor). Jay Hernandez played El Diablo exactly how I saw the character in my volumes of Suicide Squad comics. The rest of the cast was great, but without much back story or screen time it was difficult to call these other characters notable.
The film is a mess for the first 30-45 minutes, but once the main team is introduced and they are dropped in the middle of Midway City for their mission, the movie really takes off. Prior to this the movie is full of pacing and tone issues. The order for some of the scenes didn’t really make a lot of sense. Why introduce Deadshot and Harley Quinn right away when ten minutes later Amanda Waller is going to introduce them again with her run down of the team? The first third of the movie also felt like Cartoon Network threw up all over a DC movie. There were moments when the humor felt forced and inconsistent between scenes. The humor also came across as rather random, and in reality wasn’t very funny.
Everything from the landing in Midway City until the end felt like one long cohesive movie. It was at this point when I no longer felt myself thinking about how awkward the beginning was and was able to actually focus on everything as the plot unfolded. We saw the character’s interact as if they were a team of people who had nothing in common except for being criminals. Over time they grew to appreciate each other, but at the end of the day there was no touchy-feely ending where the team sticks together to face the next threat to humanity.
One of the biggest things about this movie that fans have looked forward too was seeing was Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker. Save your breath, because this version of the Joker was not very memorable and arguably not very good. It was certainly a new take on the character, but any time he opened his mouth I felt like I was watching a drunk Jim Carey acting like a cosplayer dressed up as a gangster Joker while pretending to do his best Heath Ledger impersonation. I never once looked at this version of the Joker and thought that he was Batman’s equal. I wish I could say I was disappointed by this, but after how much hype Jared Leto’s behind the scenes antics received, I knew it was probably too good to be true.
Overall, the movie was just ok. I was never pulled into the story. I never really cared about any of the characters. The villain had another generic “I’m going to destroy the world” plan. And the whole movie screamed, “generic summer blockbuster.” I hesitate to say it was bad, but it was not good. There were plenty of moments that tonally did not fit with the rest of the movie (namely the entire first 30-45 minutes), and the inclusion of popular songs made it feel like DC was trying to emulate another hit movie about a ragtag team of bad guys (Guardians of the Galaxy). But the use of these songs did nothing to add to the plot. They were included because one line from the song coincided with an action happening on the screen. It was as if DC were a kid who could only get the 30 second iTunes preview of the songs because they ran out of money and creativity.
At this point I think it might be time to accept that DC will never make a great movie as long as we continue to compare them to Marvel. Suicide Squad looked like it was going to fix everything. Three movies in and DC has yet to make a universally loved comic book movie. I’m glad they are going to stay the course in spite of this. Perhaps this is just their style – like the tonal differences between DC and Marvel comics. Perhaps this is the best we are going to get.